England won't be popular in Russia - Gareth Southgate

England won't be popular in Russia - Gareth Southgate
From ESPN - March 22, 2018

AMSTERDAM -- England manager Gareth Southgate has claimed he has "little interest" in the comments of UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson about the World Cup in Russia, but has admitted he fears that his team will be unpopular at this summer's tournament due to political tensions between the two countries.

Johnson suggested England fans should be wary of travelling to Russia this summer and agreed with a claim that the competition could see President Vladimir Putin "glorying in this sporting event" like Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics.

Suggestions that the England team could be forced to withdraw from the tournament by the British government have been dismissed. But Southgate, speaking in Amsterdam ahead of Friday's friendly against Netherlands, insisted that Johnson's remarks would not affect his preparation for the tournament.

"It's of little interest to me what the foreign secretary thinks about it," Southgate said. "I spoke to the players a couple of days ago and there's no suggestion we wo not go to the tournament.

"The thing that's uppermost in our mind is security and safety and there are no concerns about that.

"I was in Russia for the Confederations Cup last year and there were about 15,000 fans from Chile there, it was an incredible atmosphere in the stadiums.

"The training grounds and facilities were excellent. It felt like other World Cups I have been to in terms of experience within the stadiums and atmosphere for games."

Southgate accepts, however, that the political fallout between the UK and Russia will not help his team this summer.

"I do not think we are going to be the most popular with the way things are going at the moment," he said. "But I have been used to that over my career with different teams, maybe that can be an extra motivation for us.


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